The Maine legislature's joint committee on legal affairs diverted its attention Wednesday from such weighty and complex issues as whether pinball machines are gambling devices to consider a bill to establish an annual Chester Greenwood Day.

Rep. Richard G. Morton, who sponsored the measure, rose before the committee wearing a pair of white, wooly ear protectors.

The bill, Morton told the committee, would require no funding, refunding, additional funding, staffing, supervision, revision and provision. It would only require the governor to issue an annual proclamation, in the bill's words, "inviting and urging the people of Maine to observe Dec. 21 in suitable places with appropriate ceremony and activity."

Dec. 21, Morton continued, is the first day of winter, and 104 years ago last winter. Chester Greenwood, then 15, invented the earmuff.

Four years later he patented his "Champion Ear Protectors" and for the next six decades he manufactured them in his Farmington factory.

The original earmuff was of a simple construction fashioned of haywire, beaver fur and black velvet.

Sully Greenwood, Chester's grandson, who also testified at Wednesday's hearing, said his grandfather invented the earmuff because he had sensitive ears.

In addition to the earmuff, the grandson continued, Chester Greenwood invented doughnut hooks, steel archery bows, the steel-spring garden rake, an automatic boring device for wood turning, shock absorbers for airplanes, self-primary spark plugs, wheel grinders and steel valves.

Sully Greenwood said his illustrious grandfather was not known to have attended school.